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Chapter Two: Desire
“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” ~Francis Bacon
Year of the Trees 1290:
His wife was angry.
Nerdanel’s chestnut hair with its auburn highlights hung lank around her face in the steam of the bathing pool. She was frowning, her lower lip pouting slightly as it always did when she was displeased. Fëanáro leaned back, bringing his shoulders out of the water that was beginning to feel too hot. They were both sitting opposite each other on the bench that lined the four walls of the pool. He gazed at his wife, at the water lapping gently at her breasts and at the sweat beaded on her forehead. He wondered if he should speak. Her green eyes stared distantly at the floor tiles that formed a blue and white mosaic featuring seashells, fish and dolphins.
Fëanáro allowed himself a small sigh. It was times like this he was glad he paid the extra fee every week to reserve use of the one of the secluded pools at the bathhouse. The public pools might be larger and deeper but they were no place to attempt a private conversation. In the early years of their marriage they had often gone days without seeing each other, as they both had a tendency to become absorbed in whatever particular project they were currently in engaged in. His wife had put a stop to this by committing them both to meeting at the bathhouse twice each day, no matter how busy or engrossed they were in their respective crafts.
He glanced out the small window, set high in wall so none might look in. Fëanáro could tell by the fading silver light that it was late into Quelië Silmë. Soon the waning glow of Telperion would be joined by the warm, golden luminance of Laurelin as they combined at First Mingling. They would both need to return to their work then and would not likely see each other again until they ate together before retiring to bed at the 8th hour. Would his wife be angrier by then or would she have calmed? His own anger tended to seethe and grow more intense with time. Yet his wife possessed a more sedate nature and seldom showed irritation, let alone ire.
Fortunately, Fëanáro was spared from having to decide whether to voice his concern when his wife spoke.
“Your father came by the house earlier today,” Nerdanel said quietly, gazing at the fresco of a Telerin Swan ship riding a cresting wave that covered the wall behind him.
“Did he ask for me?” Fëanáro had been in his workshop at the forge since he had woken during the 4th hour.
Nerdanel shook her head. Still not looking at him she replied, “He merely wished to announce that Anairë is with child.”
Fëanáro grimaced. He had no love for Ñolofinwë and cared not that he was now a father. Any child of his half-brother was likely to be just as insufferable as the Elda himself was. Yet he now knew the reason for his wife’s anger. It was an argument they had previously engaged in many times in their hundred and sixteen years of marriage. Nerdanel desired children of her own. He had always told her that he was not ready, that he did not wish to bring forth offspring until they had been wed for some time. If he was honest with himself, Fëanáro knew in his heart he also desired progeny that he might instruct and one day labor beside.
Yet he was not willing to risk his wife’s life to bear them.
“Meldanya,” he began. “Is now the time to consider such things? I know you have more commissions than you can currently complete. Have you not been telling me you wish to train another apprentice to assist you?”
“Would you have your siblings fill Finwë’s Palace with Elflings while our own house remains empty?” she replied, voice uncharacteristically harsh.
To his surprise, he saw that Nerdanel’s eyes were brimming with unshed tears. In all the years of their marriage, Fëanáro could count the number of times he had seen his wife cry one hand. That included their wedding day, when she could not stop weeping with joy. He stared at her, feeling lost, unsure of what to say. He would not put her life in danger. He could not. If their unborn child were to drain her spirit the way Fëanáro himself had upon his own mother… He knew he would not survived his wife’s death. He would join her in Mandos as would their babe, for the child was unlikely to endure without its parents.
“I will not loss you too,” he muttered to himself.
His wife’s face softened. She crossed the small pool in two steps and embraced him.
“Melindonya, you have seen how the Trees always shine more brightly when we return from the coast or the mountains where their light does not reach?” Nerdanel asked, stoking his cheek with her hand.
“Their light is not truly brighter. We just notice it more after being in darkness,” He corrected, frowning in confusion.
“Yes, and that is why we appreciate it more than those whom have never dared traveled beyond the light Laurelin and Telperion. Because we have dwelt in darkness.”
“I cannot lose you,” he whispered. “Not even for the sake of children.”
“Yet if we were not willing to brave the dark, we would never have discovered all of the wonderful places we have found on our journeys. We must risk the possibility of darkness if we are ever to enjoy the increase of the light.”
Fëanáro closed his eyes and visions of children with his raven hair and his wife’s green eyes swam before his mind’s eye. He thought of how he would teach them to write with the Tengwar he had invented. They would learn the secrets of metallurgy and the mysteries of gems and crystals. He would retell the stories his father had told him, about life before the Eldar came to Aman when they had dwelt around the shores Cuiviénen under the light of the stars. Nerdanel would teach them the delicate arts: how play music and the knowledge of drawing and painting. She would sing to them, as she often did, and teach them their first words.
And his children would never visit their mother’s body in Lórien nor know the pain that he had.
“I agree,” he replied softly and leaned forward to kiss his wife.
Fëanáro (Quenya): the Quenya form of the name Fëanor.
Quelië Silmë (Quenya): ‘waning light of Telperion’. A term of my own invention to describe the 4th and 5th hour of the Trees.
…First Mingling: a cannon term for the middle (6th) hour of a day of the Trees in which the light of both Laurelin and Telperion mingle.
Ñolofinwë (Quenya): Fingolfin
Elda (Quenya): ‘Elf’.
…Hundred and sixteen years of marriage: these are years of the Trees which is about 1104 solar years.
Meldanya (Quenya): ‘My beloved’.
Melindonya (Quenya): ‘My [male] lover’.
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